Delmar Dustpan has an interesting post reminding everyone that today is Repeal Day, the day when prohibition was lifted, restoring as Howard put it, “the American right to a celebratory drink.” With that reminder, I pulled a few items from my files examining when beer was made a legal beverage in 1933. Thanks for an interesting post Delmar Dustpan.
As 1933 got underway Congress was, in rapid-fire order, putting through President Roosevelt’s relief programs. While they were all focused on the economy, some had to do with job relief, banks, farm aid, and so on but one was the “beer bill.” This legislation, which sailed through the halls of Congress, provided for the sale of 3.8% alcohol in drug stores, hotels, clubs, and department stores. Maryland then got around to figuring out the how, when and where of beer sales by setting up licensing procedures and control boards.
In Kent County citizens eagerly looked forward to the lifting of the restriction, according to Delegate Arthur H. Brice who told a local reporter that local petitions to the legislature were overwhelmingly in favor of beer. “The lobby against the beer measure at Annapolis was conducted mainly by rabid dries and bootleggers, the latter group spurred on by a desire to have their illegitimate trade carry on unmolested,” he remarked. The clerk of the Circuit Court, Robert A. Shallcross, said he was besieged by applicants. A columnist for the Enterprise, Murray S. Russell, wrote: “Beer! What magic the sound of that word seems to hold. The mere mentioning of it causes faces to brighten and everywhere its impending return is being hailed as a definite sign of the upswing.
After having a good dose of the golden brew the Enterprise columnist grew anxious when he heard a rumor that town’s might have the option to prohibit sale of beer within the municipal limits. He said he was torn between two conflicting interests, one a desire for a little excitement since the issue would “cause a big rumpus” but as he thought about it he worried the council must might go dry causing a great injustice in the municipality. Thus for his own satisfaction he polled the Chestertown council and found that the dry vote was the majority (4 to 1) He listed Mayor Satterfield and Councilmen Barnes, French and Rash as dry and gave Councilman Rogers a moist rating. On April 19, 1933, the sale of beer was legally for sale in Kent for the first time since 1878. Ten places were licensed though a petition of 13 citizens requested the refusal of a license to Maxwell Crowding at the College Hill Filling Station on the grounds that the establishment was next to the college. Beer lovers pointed with pride to the fact that during the weekend prior to legalization there were 13 arrests in Chestertown for drunkenness and disorderely conduct, but during the first weekned after became was legal there was one arrest.
Elsewhere the police in Easton prepared for trouble on the weekend after beer sales were approved in April 1933. But contrary to general expectations there was no mad rush for the beverage though all the licenses houses reported good business the first weekend. The Easton Police Department reported less disorder and less drunkenness than usually, particularly on Saturday night, though the officers were on alert. Just in case they maintained a strong vigilance for fear of an outbreak of trouble, but not a single arrest was made. And no business whatsoever has developed for the police courts.
Delamr Dustpan picks up the story with a posting on the repeal of Prohibition